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Tax mistake could signal refunds

PEOPLE living in Stanney Lane and its surrounding roads could have been forking out too much council tax since 1993.

PEOPLE living in Stanney Lane and its surrounding roads could have been forking out too much council tax since 1993.

After a four-month battle, one resident has won a £661.87 refund.

And the district valuer, who is now reviewing the tax banding of all homes in the area, admits others could be entitled to a refund.

The resident who landed the refund but does not wish to be identified said: 'A friend in Thirlmere Road applied and had his council tax banding reduced from C to B by the district valuer. I did the same as I believed I was also in the wrong band.

'But I ended up with lots of official letters telling me my claim was invalid and that I would have to go before a tribunal.

'It seemed they were trying to put obstacles in my way. Had I been a pensioner I would probably have been frightened by all the legal jargon and taken it no further.

'But I carried on and now I have received a cheque for £436.51 to cover the council tax paid between 1995-2001. The credit owed to me between 1993-1995 has also been worked out at £225.26.'

He added: 'My house is practically identical to others in Stanney Lane and some of the roads leading off it. How many other houses are in the wrong band? And will people who have moved get a refund if the whole area has been incorrectly banded?'

Spokesman for the valuation office Ayesha Owusu-Barnaby said: 'The council tax band is based on what the value of a property would have been in April 1991. And due to the sheer volume of properties examined at that time, we were only able to look at each property externally.

'Nobody else in Stanney Lane or its surrounding roads need now appeal. Once there has been successful appeals where the banding is found to be wrong, we automatically review all the other properties in that area.

'As for residents who may have moved out of a house which had been incorrectly banded and they had paid too much, it is up to the borough council how it deals with the overcharge. I understand Ellesmere Port and Neston will endeavour to trace residents and reimburse them.'

She added: 'The valuation office does not have an axe to grind and we do not collect council tax. We have a duty to keep council tax bands correct and there is no attempt to try and deter residents from making an appeal.'

Any fears of a rush of claims having a serious affect on the borough's finances have been dispelled by council treasurer Pam Williams.

She said: 'Alterations to council tax bands do not directly affect the council's budget as all of the money paid by residents goes into a central collection fund for Cheshire County Council, Cheshire Police and the borough council.'

The valuation office for this area is based at Norroy House, Nuns Road, Chester CH1 2NT.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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